Full-Time Faculty

Tel: (415) 422-6042

Brian Komei Dempster

Professor and Director of Administration

Brian Komei Dempster is a professor of rhetoric and language and a faculty member in Asian Pacific American Studies at the University of San Francisco (USF), where he also serves as Director of Administration for the Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies. He has been at USF since 2001 and received the Distinguished Teaching Award (along with Ronald Sundstrom) in 2010. Dempster is editor of both From Our Side of the Fence: Growing Up in America's Concentration Camps (Kearny Street Workshop, 2001), which received a 2007 Nisei Voices Award from the National Japanese American Historical Society, and Making Home from War: Stories of Japanese American Exile and Resettlement (Heyday, 2011). Topaz, his debut book of poetry, was published by Four Way Books in 2013. His work—as a poet, workshop instructor, and editor—has been recognized by grants from the Arts Foundation of Michigan and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the California State Library's California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, the Center for Cultural Innovation, and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Dempster has also been awarded scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Tel: (415) 422-6011

Leslie Dennen

Associate Professor

Leslie Dennen is the director of the Writing Center and Associate Professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Language. She received her Masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language and Certificate in Composition from San Francisco State University. She received her Doctorate in Education from USF in 2007. Her dissertation investigated how student engagement in on-campus activities affected student identity and beliefs about their learning process. Her article "Writing Center for Credit: A Correlation Study" was recently accepted for publication in the Sound Instruction Book: Writing Center Theory and Practice by Academic Exchange Quarterly. Her research interests include cognitive epistemology, student learning and writing practices, and writing center research. 

Tel: (415) 422-2607

Doreen Ewert

Associate Professor, Director

Doreen Ewert is Associate Professor and Director of the Academic English for Multilingual Students program in the Department of Rhetoric and Language at the University of San Francisco. Her Ph.D. from Indiana University was entitled, "The Expression of Temporality in the Written Discourse of L2 Learners of English: Distinguishing Text-Types and Text Passages." She teaches courses in linguistics, second language acquisition, language teaching methodologies, and developmental English for multilingual learners across the skills. Her research interests include language teacher development, curriculum design and implementation, extensive reading, and second language writing.

Tel: 415-422-6684

Cathy Gabor

Assistant Professor

Cathy Gabor received a B.A. in English from Bethany College in West Virginia, an M.A. in English from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition from Texas Christian University. Prior to her arrival at USF in 2012, she was the Writing Program Director at San Jose State University. At USF, she teaches RHET 101, 110, 110N, 120, and 205. Cathy's research and teaching interests range from service-learning to writing in electronic environments. Her work has appeared in Reflections: A Journal of Public Rhetoric, Civic Writing, and Service Learning; The Journal of Basic Writing; and several edited collections. Her most recent publication is a co-authored article (with Tina Kazan) on feminist leadership, entitled "Magic, Agency, Power: Mapping Embodied Leadership Roles," which appeared in the Writing Program Administration journal in 2013.

Tel: 415-422-4984

Nicole Gonzales Howell

Assistant Professor

Nicole Gonzales Howell is a doctoral candidate at Syracuse University in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric and is currently an Ethnic Minority Dissertation Fellow at the University of San Francisco. She has taught a variety of writing courses ranging from first year Composition to Upper Division courses for writing majors. In addition to teaching, Nicole has also been a writing center consultant and graduate editor for Syracuse University. In her current position at the University of San Francisco she teaches a Freshman Seminar Course titled, “Writing about Human Rights,” while also completing her dissertation. Much of Nicole's research has focused on the importance of considering social location (race, gender, class, ability, and sexual orientation) of both students and teachers and how it relates to many aspects of writing instruction, teacher affect, program administration, and in particular writing assessment. However, her dissertation is an archival historiographic project that inserts Latina activist Dolores Huerta into the rhetorical tradition.

Tel: (415) 422-2126

Philip Hanson

Associate Professor

Philip Hanson received his PhD in Literature/Composition from the University of California, Berkeley. His articles on film and twentieth century American literature have appeared in more than twenty journals, among them The Cambridge Quarterly, Gestos: Revista de teorίa y prάctica de teatro hispάnico, The Journal of American Studies, The Faulkner Journal, and the anthology, The Modern Jewish Experience in World Cinema (Brandeis University Press). His book, This Side of Despair, was a Choice Magazine selection for outstanding books in 2008 and a Journal of Scholarly Publishing selection for notable books, 2008. A former co-director of the American Studies Program and former director of the Advanced Placement Writing Program, he is currently teaching Written Communication classes.

Tel: (415) 422-5995

David Holler

Associate Professor

David Holler came to USF in 2003 as an adjunct professor. Since becoming a member of the full-time faculty in 2007, he has taught primarily RHET 120, RHET 130/131, and RHET 195. He now serves as the Director of the Martín-Baró Scholars Program, which covers five core classes, including Written and Oral Communication. Holler also edits USF's undergraduate research journal, Writing for a Real World. His RHET 325/ENGL 325 course (offered every fall semester) invites students interested in pursuing careers in editing to work on USF's annual journal. In 2014, David earned the Distinguished Teaching Award.

Tel: (415) 422-5638

Devon Holmes


Devon Holmes, Professor of Rhetoric and Language, holds a BA in English from the University of Southern California, an MA in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University, and a PhD in Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English from the University of Arizona. She teaches written and oral communication to undergraduates, grounding her courses in what Russel K. Durst describes as a pedagogy of “reflective instrumentalism.” Devon co-directs the composition program.

Tel: (415) 422-6685

Jonathan Hunt

Associate Professor

Jonathan Hunt received a B.A. in English from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. in World Literature and Cultural Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Prior to his arrival at USF in 2012, he was Associate Director the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University. At USF, he teaches RHET 110, 120, 130, and 131.
In his research, Jonathan is most interested in "outlaw" rhetoric: rhetoric that violates norms of decorum. He has contributed to The New Dictionary of the History of Ideas (Charles Scribner's Sons, 2004) and The World Is a Text (Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2009). His most recent publication is an article on rhetoric and swearing, entitled "From Cacemphaton to Cher: Foul Language and Evidence in the Rhetorical Tradition," which appeared in Relevant Rhetoric in 2012.

Tel: 415-422-2576

Tika Lamsal

Assistant Professor

Tika Lamsal received his Master's in English literature from Tribhuvan University, Nepal in 1997 and taught at the Central Department of English, Tribhuvan University for eight years before he came to the U.S. for his studies. He received his PhD in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Louisville, Kentucky. His dissertation, entitled "Globalizing Literacies and Identities: Translingual and Transcultural Literacy Practices of Bhutanese Refugees in the U.S.," is an ethnographic study that examines multilingual, multicultural, and multimodal learning practices of the refugees in the context of the U.S. He has taught courses in first year writing, business communication, linguistics, second language writing, British literature, non-western rhetorics, and South Asian studies. His research interests include multilingual literacies, multimodal composition, second language writing, and South Asian diaspora literature. He has also served as director of Humanities Department in National Integrated College, Nepal, and as assistant director of graduate student writing at the Writing Center, University of Louisville. His work has appeared in JAC: Journal of Advanced Composition, Journal of Global Literacies, Technologies, and Emerging Pedagogies, and Bodhi: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

Tel: 415-422-4366

Michelle LaVigne

Associate Professor

Michelle LaVigne's writing/research focuses on the intersection of dance, rhetoric, and performance. In particular, she writes about the persuasive qualities of dance movements and aesthetics, and how practices of rhetoric might be rethought from the movements of dance. In addition to speaking at national and international conferences, she has published reviews in the Quarterly Journal of Speech and Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.

Tel: (415) 422-6674

Genevieve Leung

Assistant Professor

Genevieve Leung (Ph.D., Educational Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania) teaches courses in graduate and undergraduate academic writing and presentational speaking at USF. Her research interests include Chinese American identities, Cantonese language acquisition and maintenance, and linguistic landscape.

Tel: (415) 422-6016

Thomas Lugo

Assistant Professor

Tom Lugo holds a BA from UC Irvine (English), an MA from Georgetown (Brit. lit.) and a PhD from Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in writing studies.
At USF he teaches Rhet. 106N, 108, 110, 110N, 120 & 140 (now 195); ESL summer classes in advanced and intermediate conversation. Tom's research interests are Composition pedagogy, first-year composition, first-generation undergrads, and ethnography. His teaching philosophy is from John Dewey: "Teach the child, not the subject."

Tel: (415) 422-5809

Theodore Matula

Department Chair, Assistant Professor

Ted Matula earned his PHD in Communication from The Ohio State University, specializing in rhetorical theory and its usefulness in studying popular culture. In addition to public speaking and written and oral communication, he teaches courses on popular culture, free speech, and communication ethics. His research has been published in Communication Studies and Popular Music and Society.

Tel: (415) 422-5029

Mark Meritt


Mark Meritt, Professor of Rhetoric and Language, holds a B.A. in English from Cornell University, an M. A. in English from the UC Santa Barbara, and a Ph. D. in English from the University of Oregon. The emphasis of his literary scholarship has been early nineteenth-century British poetry and prose, and his work has appeared in the journals Studies in Romanticism and European Romantic Review,among others. His current interests include the role of reading in college composition pedagogy, and the relevance and uses of historically remote texts in the twenty-first century classroom. Mark also coordinates the "Scholars Connect" program for University Scholars in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Tel: (415) 422-5431

Michael Rozendal

Associate Professor

Michael Rozendal's interest in communities of writers has fuelled his recent first year seminars "Writing San Francisco: Bohemia, Counterculture, Subcultures" and "Telling San Francisco's Stories". Professor Rozendal is the Academic Director of the Dual Degree in Teacher Preparation Program, a 4 +1 program bridging the undergraduate College of Arts and Science with the graduate School of Education. His research focuses on the 1930s and the intersections of print culture, politics and aesthetics. He has had publications in The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies; Modernist Magazines: A Critical and Cultural History Volume Two: North America, 1880-1960; The William Carlos Williams Review; Revues Modernistes, Revues Engagées 1900-1939; and Landscapes of Postmodernity: Concepts and Paradigms of Critical Theory.

Tel: (415) 422-5524

David Ryan

Assistant Professor

Tel: (415) 422-2407

Stephanie Vandrick


Stephanie Vandrick specializes in teaching writing; she has also directed three USF programs. Professor Vandrick received a double M.A. in English Literature and TESOL from Michigan State University. She is the author of Interrogating Privilege, co-editor of Writing for Scholarly Publication, co-author of Ethical Issues for ESL Faculty, and author of numerous book chapters and journal articles, most recently (2014) "The Role of Social Class in English Education," published in the Journal of Language, Identity, and Education.  Her research interests include issues of social class and gender in language education, the uses of personal narrative and memoir in scholarly writing, and postcolonial theory in the context of TESOL. She received the 2002 Frank Beach College Service Award. She writes a blog on books (http://stephanievandrickreads.blogspot.com/).